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Stony Brook Garden Club Helps a Teaching Garden Grow

 

December 17, 2020

New Jersey Committee of the GCA Grant Funds Educational Workshops

More than a decade ago, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County saw a long vacant lot across the street from their Centre Street location in Trenton, NJ and began to dream of an educational garden. Thanks to a collaborative community effort between garden clubs, non-profits, local families and businesses, Boys & Girls Club board members, staff, and numerous donors, the vacant lot has become a welcome haven for at-risk inner city youth. 

The lot was leased from the city and excavation began in 2018. By the ribbon cutting ceremony in May 2019, the once vacant lot now featured educational areas including a library, raised garden beds for fruits and vegetables, a wooden teaching pavilion, multi-colored fencing constructed from recycled bicycle parts, and a play area with space for soccer. 

Members of the Stony Brook Garden Club (SBGC) have been involved with the project since its  inception and design, planting native plants and trees, and aiding with ongoing garden maintenance. Now, thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Committee of The Garden Club of America, the club will be able to support the garden initiative by funding educational workshops and demonstrations throughout the year for children aged five to thirteen. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the start of summer camp was briefly delayed, but by late summer, the children were harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, flowers, and herbs with the surplus going home to their families. Educational opportunities included learning about raising produce, cooking with the harvest, and learning about good nutrition. Building compost piles, using water collected from rain barrels, and learning how pollinators are good for the garden, became a part of the children’s ongoing experience. This fall, members of SBGC conducted a bulb-planting demonstration and workshop, where the children planted bulbs in the garden as well as took some home to nurture and grow. Additional activities are planned throughout the year as the garden and its educational opportunities continue to grow.

 

 

 

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